I’m depressed. I’ve tried all the usual cures. Chocolate, sleeping in, not changing out of my pajamas for two days in a row, watching funny Friends re-runs, wine, and more chocolate. My mom’s even put me on a steady Christmastime treatment of retail therapy. (Moms are good like that.) But, somehow, I’m still pretty funked out.

Adam claims it’s because I just finished writing our book and now it’s done and out there. That it’s an inevitable post-project depression. I hear a lot of authors go through it. And he probably has a good point.

But, when I dig deeper, I find that there is something else looming large and weighing heavy on my soul. It’s been gnawing at my mind the last couple of months, whispering into my thoughts, and gurgling inside my stomach.

I feel hopeless.

I put these exact words to the feeling about 6 weeks ago. And the longer I’ve sat with them, the more I’ve realized they’re true.

Now I’m about to go out onto a very big limb. I’m getting the feeling that I’m  not the only one feeling short on hope. I see the lack of it in the voters desperately hoping for good candidates, I see the lack of it in protestors chanting for change, I hear the lack of it in the voices of my generation and those older than mine.

And when something as dangerous as hopelessness pervades multiple generations, I know something has shifted.

Pushing aside all the actual reasons I have to be overwhelmed (and a few not-so-real ones I added during my last pity party), the lack of hope all around me is the scariest part of this entire experience.

Sure, we’re umemployed, living with my mom, haven’t been verified for unemployment, eat a lot of raman, don’t live within affordable driving distance of our friends, aren’t sure how to pay the bills, and probably a few other semi-depressing things. But you know what? We’ve been here before. Not just personally, but as a group. A society. A human race.

We humans are amazing at picking ourselves up, moving on, and starting again.

I hear stories from my grandparents and grandparents-in-law about the Great Depression and World War II. People pulled together to make things work. They had pride in scrimping and going without to help out the troops, the country, their neighbor. And I honestly believe we’re still made up of the same stuff.

So to begin this series on hopelessness and hope, I’m going to issue myself a call-to-arms, and to any of you out there who want to do the same, 2012 is going to be the year of hope. Not political hope, not monetary hope, not pie-in-the-sky-ignore-the-facts hope. But honest-to-goodness, sincere, pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps-while-standing-in-a-puddle-of-manure hope.

Things will get better. Because I can imagine them getting better. And I can work toward them being better. And I will make them better.

I have hope!

I would love to hear from you what things bring you hope for the next year. And I would also love to hear your declaration of grabbing hope for the new year.

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10 thoughts on “Hopeless

  1. Foss Raub says:

    Are you going to make a Hopeless Part 2?

  2. fossraub says:

    “…honest-to-goodness, sincere, pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps-while-standing-in-a-puddle-of-manure hope.” That’s the kind of hope I need. I will work to make things better. I love what you and Adam are doing. Thank you so much.

    (P.S. I just got ‘Manly Hero’ the other day and l love it so far.)

    • petra says:

      Thank you. That means a lot. And I’m so happy you are joining me in grasping at hopefulness. 🙂 (Hope you keep enjoying the book.)

  3. Tamara Milliken says:

    Ah, Petra, I love you! Cheers to hope!

  4. willswindow says:

    Great Post. One thing that gives me hope is seeing my friends take risks to pursue creative work. Not to blow anything up anyone’s ass (smoke, sunshine, hope, etc), but writing an excellent book is a prime example.

    There are two facets to the hope I get from watching people step out on an artistic limb. 1) A sense of inspiration–“if they can do it, I can do it!” 2) A sense of charity for myself. It always seems easier for me to admire someone else’s courage, and to doubt my own. Realizing this makes me want to be as much of a fan of myself as I am of others.

    So, continuing to “think out loud, I would like to declare that I am grabbing on to hope for myself; that I wouldn’t be so hard on me.

    • petra says:

      I love the idea of “grabbing on to hope for myself; that I wouldn’t be so hard on me.” That’s an amazing concept.

      I’ve found so far that being accepting of myself and my process is equally balanced with being accepting of others and their process. I’m not sure if one comes before the other or not. They seem so entwined.

      Do you find you have more hope for yourself once you’ve been inspired by others? Or more hope for others once you have courage in yourself? Or do they balance out for you too?

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